Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Landour Cemetery

I love old cemeteries. And an abandoned cemetery set among pine trees and swirling, ghostly mists? Even better. This is the Landour Cemetery. It's on the road around the hill. You pass by the Four Shops and keep on walking left until you see it below you. Reasonably easy. The gate is locked up with wire, but that's no real impediment.

Walk along the old brick walls on the right, there's a crumbled spot where it's easy to scramble through. I hope I don't have to add that if you choose to do this, you'd best be respectful.

Everyone in Landour knows the cemetery, but there is remarkably little written about it. Well, at least on the Internet. Most of the graves here are of British soldiers. They came up here to take the cure in the cool mountain air, after contracting various tropical diseases in the lowlands. Some of them didn't make it.

Ah, here we go! The Internet Archive contains a very old document, complete with inscriptions from the headstones here. You can barely read them, these days.

1828— BOLTON, G., Captain. Inscription :—Sacred to the
memory of Captain George Bolton, H. C.'s 2nd European Regiment,
who after some months of painful suffering departed this life on the
13th of June in the year of the Lord 1828, aged 40 His virtuous
and amiable disposition rendered him generally beloved in life and
lamented in death This memorial is expected by his afflicted widow
as the last earthly tribute of affection and respect to an indulgent
and affectionate husband. Appointed as a lieutenant in 1804, a captain
in 1818. He was born at Dinapore in 1788 and served in Java.

1830— GRAHAM, J. R., Captain. Lueriptinn. Sacred to the
memory of John Richard Graham, Esq., late a Captain of the 5th
Regiment of Bengal Light Cavalry. This monument is erected by
his brother officers as a mark of their esteem and regard for the
character of one universally beloved for his many good and amiable
qualities. He died on the 30th day of May A. D. 1830, aged 29 years.

He was appointed cadet in 1817, lieutenant in 1819, captain in 1829. He
was the son of J. Graham of Barrock Loige, born 1800, and a relative of Sir J.
Graham. Bart.

Sacred to the memory of Major William Blundell, XI Dragoons, who was killed by falling with his horse on the south side of the Landour Hill, on the 12th November 1834, aged 54 years.

"It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Jesus Christ came into the world to save us. In Him alone is our hope of salvation for this our dear brother, whose kind and affectionate heart endeared him as a son and as a brother, and whose departure hence is severely felt, and deeply mourned by his family and by many friends."

And how did William Blundell die?

"... A house called Newlands, which has been struck and burnt three
times by fire. The hill is said to contain a quantity of iron which attracts the
electric fluid.... A short time ago as Major Blundell was going to that very
house, Newlands, by some accident, his guuth (hill-pony) fell over the precipice,
and they were both dashed to pieces." This tomb is not now traceable and is
reproduced from Fiihrer's List. In the B. 0. it reads " falling with his Gkoont."
The 11th Dragoons are the present 11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars, who
were in India from 1819 to 1838.

(Reference: Wanderings of a Pilgrim: In Search of the Picturesque. (?)

Wanderings of a Pilgrim being a fascinating looking book by one Fanny Parkes, who spent twenty four years wandering the far East and writing about it.

However, although the Archive list of inscriptions says this is the reference, I can find nothing of the sort in the text Still worth a read. So, the mystery remains - who first reported on the unfortunate accident of Major Blundell's passing?

1835- RAISES, S. M.. Mrs. Sacred to the memory of Sophia Mary Raikes, the fondly beloved wife of Charles Raikes of the Bengal Civil Service. She departed this life on the 16th of April 1835, in the 19th year of her age.

Sad stuff, for sure. But, as final resting places go - this isn't bad, not at all. It's hard to express how happy I am that I found these inscription and now know who some of these people were. I have a habit at graveyards of looking at headstones and thinking, "I am very sorry, and I am thinking about you, and although you have been dead for a hundred and fifty years, give or take, well, I am sorry still."

They may have been awful people. But I do not know that.

I picked up some biscuit wrappers, found my umbrella, and continued my walk.

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